To some companies, ranking in the number 1 position for keywords they feel are most important is the ultimate barometer of success. While ranking for more keywords is always better than ranking for less keywords, it all comes down to where the intent of those keywords are in the purchase funnel. The truth is, not all keywords are created equal. All come with different factors such as ranking difficulty, click through rate (CTR), and volume. Ranking for keywords at the top of the funnel can bring a completely different audience to your site than ranking for keywords towards the middle or bottom.

What is The Purchase Funnel?

The purchase funnel is probably similar to what you are thinking. It’s a giant funnel that encompasses all of your users (and potential users). There are a few different layers that make up this funnel.

The top, or widest part of the funnel, contains all potential users and is the awareness section. These are the users that are conducting broad searches or are beginning research in your product field. They are beginning to become aware of the brands in the space. These are also the users that visit your site and bounce or click through to a page and exit after 30 seconds.

Moving down the funnel, this is where users become more interested and research your particular product (consideration). They gain more awareness of your brand specifically and connect with certain products. From this stage users may even place items in their cart or fill out a form to receive more information.

Last, at the very bottom of the funnel is the conversion stage. Users make the decision to purchase your product or service. This is not only important for the one user, it’s important for your business because their purchase can lead to positive reviews, referrals, and other leads.

Why Top Funnel Keywords Aren’t Helpful

While top of the funnel keywords relate broadly to your brand, they are mostly singular words that have a high ranking difficulty. These will be keywords such as “new shoes” or “collectibles.” Typically, big brands such as Wal-Mart or Target dominate top funnel keywords since they are well-known and have more resources to put towards these keywords. While you may rank for some of these terms, your site may not show up till page five or higher on the search engine pages. Users typically do not click through to that many pages, therefore ranking for that particular keyword is not helping your brand awareness or conversions.

What Keywords You Should Rank For

Keywords that are more beneficial for your brand are slightly more descriptive in nature and are found towards the middle of the funnel. These keywords are being used by users who have already completed their research in the field they are interested in, and are working on narrowing down brands or products related to their area of research.

Ranking for these keywords brings more qualified users to your site. From a Google Analytics perspective these users will click through to multiple pages, have a lower than average bounce rate, and will stay on your site similar to (if not higher than) the average session duration.

Middle of the funnel keywords will look something like “new shoes coming out in march” or “jewelry collectors near me.” Looking at these keywords compared to the ones above, you can see the difference in the intent of the search. Additionally, these types of keywords usually come with a lower difficulty ranking which makes ranking for them easier. It’s important to note that these more specific/niche keywords have a lower search volume than top funnel keywords, however, there is a higher possibility of conversion.

While it’s important to rank for a variety of keywords, not ranking for top funnel keywords won’t directly impact your business. If you don’t have software to look at keyword data consider signing up for free trials. Some software even allows a handful of free searches a day. It’s important to read the details that come with the software you are testing out. Some free versions withhold data so you won’t be able to get a full keyword report till you pay. And remember, this software can be used on any website, even your competitors.